2003 Scorecard Vote
According to the United Nations, in October 1999 the world's population reached the 6 billion mark--doubling itself in a mere 40 years. This rapid population growth, which exacerbates pollution and accelerates the depletion of natural resources, is one of the most serious threats to a healthy and sustainable environment.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) provides family planning and population assistance to more than 140 countries around the world--far more than any other donor agency. UNFPA-funded programs, in addition to slowing population growth and protecting wildlife, offer maternal and child health care, modern contraception, and assistance in HIV/AIDS prevention.
In 1985, Congress enacted the Kemp-Kasten amendment, which denies U.S. funds to any organization that "supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive or involuntary sterilization." In 2002, the Bush administration drew on a broad interpretation of this amendment to withhold a $34 million U.S. contribution to UNFPA appropriated by Congress. The decision to deny funding for millions of poor women and families was motivated solely by UNFPA's presence in China. However, a fact-finding team created by the State Department uncovered "no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in [China]." In fact, UNFPA's limited program in China is designed to promote greater respect for human rights and to move the country away from its "one child" policy.
During committee consideration of H.R. 1950, the State Department authorization bill, Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY) inserted an amendment authorizing an annual UNFPA contribution of $50 million for fiscal years 2004 and 2005. The amendment also required that the contributions be released promptly unless the president certified that UNFPA "directly supports or participates in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization."
During House floor consideration of the bill, Representatives Henry Hyde (R-IL) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) offered an amendment to strike the Crowley provision and reduce by $25 million the authorized level of the contribution. On July 15, 2003, the House narrowly approved the Hyde-Smith amendment by a 216-211 vote (House roll call 362). NO is the pro-environment vote. The House then adopted the bill, but the Senate did not complete action on its version of the bill (S. 925) before the end of the session. The 2004 omnibus spending bill, which has passed the House but not yet passed the Senate, appropriated a contribution of up to $34 million for UNFPA, but the release of the funding remains subject to the original Kemp-Kasten restriction, making it unlikely that UNFPA will receive a contribution from the United States during 2004.